My Brain Won’t Stop

One thing went wrong. And it led to another. And it was too many things. And he was MAD.

I carried him into his room so that we would have a safe space to melt down. He screamed at me, “JUST GO AWAY FROM ME!”

I have talked about this before (I’ll link that post in the comments). I honor my kids’ actual wishes if possible (which aren’t always exactly what they express in literal words). This time I knew it wasn’t going to work. If I left, he would either throw things at the door and wall, causing dents and damage, or he would open the door and come after me and we’d start all over.

But just because *I* knew that doesn’t mean that *he* knew that. So I gave it one chance. I said “I can go if you want,” and he said “GO AWAY THEN!”, so I started to walk out the door, and he picked up a wooden toy to throw in my wake.

So I turned right around and took it out of his hands (gently as possible) and said “OK, it looks like you need me to stay,” and folded him in my arms and sat down. We’ve done a lot of “bear hug and sit down exactly where we’re at” in the past couple years, since he’s gotten so big.

He continued to yell at me to go away. I said “mmhmm” and “I know,” as empathetically as I could to the first couple, and then I stopped saying it after the first couple, taking it as him expressing a wish that he didn’t need me negating. I knew he wanted me to go, and I also knew I couldn’t go.

He made threats. He snatched up his water bottle off the floor beside us and said “I will squirt water in your face.” I said, “Thanks for letting me know. I’ll put it aside for now,” and took it out of his hand and put it to the side.

“I’m going to scratch you,” he said, and moved his hands to do that. So I said “Thanks for letting me know. I will help,” and held his hands when I needed to.

He said “NO! I WANT to scratch you!” and I said “I know. I understand. It’s hard when you are so mad.”

He said “I will hit you with my head!” and I said “OK. I will make sure you don’t. I don’t want you or me to get hurt.”

I know threats are really triggering to some people. For some reason, to me, this is one area where I *don’t* have to wrestle my brain in order to see my kid in a positive light. I swear to you that there are a million areas where I am fighting with myself. The habits inlaid in me from my own childhood scream in my own brain all kinds of ugly things. But for some reason, this is the one area where it’s magically easy for me. I don’t hear a threat and think, “Such disrespect!” I hear a threat and hear the child telegraphing, “Help me stop, this is what’s coming next and I don’t know how to stop it. Here’s your five second warning!”

He screamed, kicked, screamed some more. I took deep breaths and reminded myself that we were both safe. He screamed. I took deep breaths. He took a breath. I said, “You are safe. You aren’t in danger. We are both OK.”

He screamed again, but his scream had a little more sadness and a little less anger, and then soon it was sobbing, and then he wasn’t sitting facing forward in my lap but instead turning to curl up against me. And for the first time — we’ve done up until now many times before, but not this part — he articulated something afterward. He sobbed, “My brain won’t stop. My brain doesn’t work.”

I was surprised and taken aback and honored and sad all in one. I took a deep breath and said, “Maybe your brain feels very fast? When I am mad my brain feels like it’s screaming at me.”

He sobbed and did a sad little nod.

I said, “That’s scary, huh.”

He nodded again.

I said, “I love you. You’re a great kid. You’re my favorite little boy. I will keep you safe.”

He picked up a random object off the floor and began commenting on what color it was. That was all we talked about it. That’s how the talking goes. That’s how I rewrite the anger response in his head. That’s how I rewrite the anger response in my head. That’s how we both learn to feel the emotions and survive through them. We never knew before and now we’re both learning.